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Amaretto Sour

amaretto sour

A 1970’s-era classic that has flowed in and out of favor through the years.

Emerging around the 1970s, when Italian liqueurs were becoming more popular and available in the United States, the Amaretto Sour was a simple entry on the “sour” branch of the classic cocktail family tree, built around the almond-esque flavor of amaretto. But the disco era did few favors to cocktails, and the Amaretto Sour and its contemporaries were soon consigned to the dustbin of drinks history.

The Amaretto Sour’s redemption in the modern cocktail era came about a decade ago at the hands of Portland, Oregon, bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who revamped the cocktail’s makeup with a generous pour of cask-strength bourbon. Today, when the cocktail makes an appearance on menus, it’s usually a variant of Morgenthaler’s version.

Still, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the original. “Just as you can have really good pizza and really shitty pizza, the fault is not in the idea of what a pizza is, but rather in the execution,” writes John deBary in his appropriately titled book, Drink What You Want. There’s a vast chasm of difference, says deBary, between an Amaretto Sour haphazardly sloshed with sour mix and one prepared with fresh lemon juice and egg white, and given a proper shake. “I really like fun escapist drinks,” says deBary. “I also like drinks that people have written off—especially those that misogynist culture has derided for being ‘girly’—and finding ways to show people that they’re actually wonderful. It’s an oblique way to introduce the concept of structure to people who aren’t steeped in cocktail arcana.”


  • 2 oz. amaretto
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 fresh egg white (pasteurized if you prefer)
  • Tools:shaker, strainer
  • Glass:Old Fashioned
  • Garnish:quality cocktail cherries and a few dashes of Angostura bitters


Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker and “dry” shake without ice for 5 seconds. Add ice and shake again for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled glass filled with ice and garnish.

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